non sibi sed toti

Classics Teaching Resources

Oedipus the King by Sophocles

The story.

The King and Queen of Thebes, Laius and Jocasta, are told by a god that their son will kill his father and marry his mother. When he is born, they send him to be left to die on a mountain, but he is rescued and brought up by the king and queen of another city. When he is a young man, he goes travelling and kills an old man at a crossroads. The old man is in fact his father Laius. Then he rescues the city of Thebes from a monster called the Sphinx, and as a reward he is made king and marries Queen Jocasta, not knowing that she is his mother.

The play

The play begins several years later, and is like a detective story. Oedipus needs to find out who killed King Laius, and as he questions people about what happened, he gradually finds out the dreadful truth. Jocasta realises the truth first, and hangs herself. Oedipus blinds himself.
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